In December last year, Mike McEnearney’s No. 1 Bent Street went into voluntary administration. Broadsheet reported that creditors would be meeting to discuss the future of the refined CBD diner and McEnearney cited the construction of Barangaroo and the light rail as key reasons for the restaurant’s struggles.
Now, No. 1 Bent Street is out of administration and ready for a rebrand.
“It’s very positive,” McEnearney told Broadsheet. “It came down to the support of our suppliers.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s business as usual. McEnearney has told Broadsheet he will close No. 1 Bent Street at the end of April – but only for 10 days. While it’s shut the restaurant will be overhauled.
“It will totally change in April,” he says. “People have until the end of April to come here for the last time before it’s given a refresh.”
While McEnearney couldn’t confirm the final changes, he says the new iteration of the restaurant will be more in tune with how people are eating in 2019.
“It’s a fast-moving landscape, the city has changed and we all need to keep up with it. People’s spending habits have changed, which is something we need to react to. People are eating out more [often] but spending less [each time].”
McEnearney made his name working as head chef at Neil Perry’s Rockpool, before opening his canteen-style eatery Kitchen by Mike in a warehouse at Rosebery in Sydney’s inner south. Despite the popularity of its sandwiches and salads, and being one of the frontrunners of the suburb’s now-thriving dining scene, McEnearney shut up shop in August 2015.
He was back soon enough, though, opening No. 1 Bent Street less than a year later. At the time, he told Broadsheet his approach would be, “cooking seasonally, with a less-is-more approach, very egalitarian and not too expensive.”
As well as running No. 1 Bent Street, McEnearney will continue to oversee the successful Kitchen by Mike at Sydney Airport, which was named Casual Dining Restaurant of the year at the airport-specific Food and Beverage Awards in 2018. He’s also continuing as the director of the Carriageworks Farmers Market and Night Market. McEnearney enlisted Kylie Kwong to oversee the seasonal night markets; the next one is on February 15. She’s bringing luminaries Ben Shewry (Attica) and Josh Niland (Fish Butchery) into the fold, alongside food from Long Chim, Continental Deli and Belles Hot Chicken.
“I’m happy to be alive and humbled to still be able to continue at Bent Street,” he says.